The theban tomb TT96

The tomb is entered by a steep tunnel, which opens into a low chamber covered with painted decoration. This small chamber shows Sennefer entering the Underworld, with servants carrying boxes and a bed for his tomb. Passing through this chamber, the main burial chamber is reached through a doorway guarded by jackals The south wall show the funeral procession, the west wall shows offerings and the ritual journey to Abydos. The north wall shows Sennefer and his wife worshipping Osiris and Anubis, it also shows the embalming chamber, and purification of Sennefer and Meryt by a priest of the mortuary temple of Thutmose III. One of decorations has a graffito added at a much later date, showing that the tomb was open during the Greco-Roman period. The east wall again shows scenes of offerings and libation, the false doorway, through which Sennefer and Meryt are shown ‘going forth by day’. The ceiling has three lines of hieroglyphic on the ceiling, two between the pillars, and further lines of text at the top of three of the pillars.
The pillars show scenes of Meryt offering myrrh, food offerings and lotus flowers to Sennefer, and scenes with Sennefer seated in the shade of trees with a table of refreshments, the fourth pillar shows Sennefer surrounded by priests while he stands on a hill of sand, part of the opening of the mouthceremony.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL HISTORY

The monument has been known since at least 1826. It was visited by the Englishman Robert Hay de Linplum, who made copies for the tomb’s decoration, which are now in the British Museum. In 1895 the English Egyptologist Percy Newberry made it the subject of a very limited investigation, intended primarily to copy one of the texts preserved in the chapel. Later, in 1898, it was eventually published together with plans, line drawings and a complete record of the texts of the lower chambers. This was done by the Frenchman Philippe Virey. This publication is invaluable because several details from the antechamber were lost after his record was made. In none of these publications is there any indication of the presence of any grave goods; although some of the goods stored in the upper cult chamber may eventually be identified as such. There is no evidence to prove that Sennefer was actually buried in this tomb. It is possible that Sennefer received an unusual personal favour from the king, allowing him the privilege to be buried in the empty tomb (KV42) of the wife of Tuthmosis III, in the Valley of the Kings. Vessels with the names of Sennefer and his wife, Senetnay, were found in this tomb.
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Over the intervening years there have been numerous attempts to rob the tomb of its paintings. One such scene is in the Florence Museum. Other scenes were returned but, although originally restored incorrectly, are now in their correct places. During 1994 the tomb suffered damage from a violent storm.
TT96B was opened to the public soon after its discovery and still receives several thousand visitors each year. However, the painting of the walls and pillars are now protected and secured behind glass, with fairly good lighting, although only placed at floor level. This addition of protection and lighting made good photography difficult, even when it was still allowed. Visitors are only allowed in the underground part of the complex, the burial chamber and its antechamber, accessed being made via the steep passage stairway from the courtyard. Fortunately, these two chambers, unlike most of the other private tombs of 18th Dynasty, are beautifully decorated. Access to the upper cult chambers has been unavailable, mainly due to its dangerous condition and the fact that they were used as store rooms.

The Tomb’s Design

 
The renovated entrance to the tomb is followed by a steep staircase that ends in an antechamber and the burial chamber which has four pillars. The upper parts of the tombs are used for storage and are now closed to visitors.
 

Decorations Inside The Tomb

 
Unlike most other tombs from this era, both chambers of Sennefer’s private tomb were decorated. The upper chamber has scenes of harvesting, banqueting, and offering, similar to the other private tombs. The walls of the underground chamber were covered with mud plaster and had an uneven surface. Scenes in bright colors very well preserved are there. The antechamber has a painting of Sennefer sitting under the grape arbor ceiling with his daughter Mut-Tuy leading a procession of priests. The many ladies depicted in the paintings on the wall somehow create confusion as to how many wives Sennefer had. The short passage to the burial chamber has a double-scene of Anubis jackals sitting on top of pylon-shaped shrines on either side of an altar.
 
The ceiling of the burial chamber has an exceptional decoration and the unique grape design offers any person the impression of standing under a rising and falling canvas tent, with four square pillars supporting the ceiling. The other walls of the chamber have various other scenes of the couple and their daughter offering to the deities and also showing the funeral procession of the deceased.